The start of our research began with reviewing sources provided by Harbor Plan and verifying their initial research with our own research. We conducted secondary research to understand the vast financial space that serves the baby boomers. Our findings provided us insights into the attitudes and behaviors of U.S. adults when it comes to retirement planning.
Confidence level among pre-retirees about retirement is at an all time low.
- In 2016, 22% of boomers believed they were doing a good job preparing for retirement—this is a big decrease from 41% of boomers in 2012.
- 7 out of 10 Americans had some level of anxiety around outliving their retirement savings.
A significant number of boomers postponed retirement plans.
- Rising cost of living and healthcare caused people to work more and delay retirement.
- Divorce impacted boomers’ retirement plans. 24% of divorced boomers were expected to be worse in retirement than if they had not divorced.
- The term “sandwich generation” captured the challenges baby boomers faced. They lacked retirement saving due to exhausting their financial resources to take care of their children’s needs and their own parents’ needs.
We evaluated the retirement planning services provided by a wide range of financial companies—financial advisories, robo advisors, and personal finance management apps. At a quick glance, the financial space looked pretty vast competitive. As we looked closer, we noticed no company focused exclusively on retirement planning and targeted pre-retirees. Investment banks did provide users with retirement calculators, planners, and tools but these tools were inaccessible to all consumers and came with a cost. Harbor Plan delivered a unique value proposition more focused and tailored service.
allowed users to get a better sense where they are in their retirement savings and where they need to be. RetireGuide offered questions to understand user’s financial situation, creating a retirement projection for the user. The interface appeared simple and intuitive. RetireGuide gave users a rundown of its recommendations for how to save for retirement and suggested users to take immediate action to setting up user’s existing accounts to fully fund the needed amount for retirement.
Wealthfront launched a retirement planning service called Path
. Path aimed to help young investors to start saving for retirement early. Path provide an interactive graph to allow users to figure out what different financial futures look like. Also users could find retirement-related advice through the service rather than going through a finance professional.
Based on our research, Betterment and Wealthfront were considered the two best retirement planning service in the online space, so I explored these services further. Betterment and Wealthfront had a lot to offer novice investors, offering low fees when compared to traditional financial advisors—Betterment required no account minimum while Wealthfront required $500 minimum. In my opinion, Betterment appeared to have more standout features. Betterment has a hybrid approach to providing automated service and human contact while Wealthfront does not provide human contact with its service. The goal setting options let users customize their account by four investment goals: retirement, safety net, wealth building, and major purchase. However, Betterment’s basic idea of “set it and forget it” investing could be an area of opportunity for Harbor Plan to strengthen their position. Our client mentioned that they wanted users to be their own financial advisor. I saw Harbor Plan not only providing the human touch and actionability but also an in-depth financial resource that empower users to make their own financial steps with informed knowledge.
Five users were recruited and selected by our client. Harbor Plan was not an existing product at that time. Our users partook in a pre-questionnaire to ensure we were talking to individuals who fit our target audience. User interviews were conducted in hopes that we could identify patterns of goals, motivations, needs, and frustration. We pulled the following information from the questionnaire:
SMEs gave us a better picture of the relationship between a financial advisor and consumer. SMEs consisted of two certified financial planners (CFP), and two registered investment advisors (RIA). They shared with us the various approaches they utilize to maintain their relationship with clients. Our SME interviews aligned with our client’s assumption and the rest of our research insights.